Bharti,Voda,Sify and many others sued over copyright infringement

Category: WTO Sub-category: Intellectual Property
Document type: news

23-Mar-2012 | 3:35 IST| Edited by: Sharmila Maitra

IMI logoArmed with a Calcutta High Court order, Indian Music Industry (IMI), the umbrella organisation representing 142 music companies including Saregama, Universal Music, Tips, Venus, Sony Music and EMI, has sent notices to as many as 387 internet service providers, or ISPs, over music copyright infringement by 104 websites.

The ISPs include Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Dishnet Wireless, Reliance Wimax, Hathway Cable & Datacom, Hughes Communications, Tata Teleservices, Reliance Communications Infrastructure, Wipro, Sify Technologies and BG Broadband.

The high court gave its order last week that has restrained the ISPs from reproducing, adopting, distributing, communicating, transmitting, disseminating or displaying in any manner infringing the copyright in sound recordings belonging to the IMI member companies. In other words, the High Court's injunction requires all ISPs in the country to block access to the copyright infringing sites by their IP address, domain name and using deep packet inspection-based URL blocking.

Music company officials, however, have underscored the need for greater transparency.

The doyens of the music industry have perceived this decision as victory for them and said that they were not targeting anyone specific. They said that all they wanted is a fair game.

graph showing the revenues

However, studies have shown that the recorded music market in India was worth an estimate of US$141.2 million in 2011. This represented a 6.2% increase on 2010, but it was observed that the market, long blighted by piracy, was worth a fraction of that of other Asian nations, such as Japan (US$4 billion) and South Korea (US$199 million). It was suggested that if piracy could be effectively addressed, there is potential for the Indian music market to increase substantially.

However, a significant proportion of record company revenues in India (46%) are already derived from digital channels, and there are 16 licensed digital music services, though this is only in theory.

According to Vijay Lazarus, IMI president, piracy is a scourge for India's media and entertainment industry causing losses of about '20,000 crore every year due to copyright infringements. 

Moreover, recent estimates suggest that India's digital music market is in the range of '5,000 crore, but only 7% of it is legitimate.